Occupy Central protesters, who have camped out for months in the center of Hong Kong, are trying a new tactic in their fight for genuine democratic elections — going shopping.
Following dozens of arrests and violent clashes between police and demonstrators on November 25 and 26 at the Mong Kok protest site, activists are urging their supporters to go shopping in Mong Kok instead to peacefully reclaim the area. They have turned the Umbrella Revolution’s icon upside down into a shopping basket and dubbed the movement the “Gauwu Revolution”. The term “gauwu” is the Mandarin pronunciation of “shopping”.
Hong Kong police began to clear the Mong Kok site on November 25 after an injunction order was granted to a minibus drivers’ association providing legal grounds for the police to help the plaintiff remove objects there that obstructed traffic.
However, the police made use of the opportunity to clear people in addition to objects and arrested 148 people, accusing them of “criminal contempt of a court order.” The tense mood at times boiled over into physical confrontations between police and protesters.
Several witness accounts, videos from the scene and photos published on mainstream and social media showed that the police attacked journalists and onlookers with batons.
The police spokesperson defended the agency’s actions, saying officers were trying to prevent people from re-occupying the streets. Yet, some legal experts have said the police had no legal justification to drive passersby away from the area as they had not announced any curfew order.
To express their outrage towards the excessive use of force during the clearing, hundreds of people have joined in the shopping movement and wandered around Mong Kok district at night.
The window shoppers also marched from Mong Kok to the Tsim Sha Tsui area as a symbolic act to reclaim the street. The police checked identity cards and questioned participants along the way.
It’s suspected that police have refrained from issuing a curfew order because the Mong Kok district is always crowded with shoppers from all around the world. But without a curfew, how can they legally stop people from shopping? Hong Kong people have always loved shopping, and if it helps further the cause of democratic elections, even better.
Read more: globalvoicesonline.org – Written by Oiwan Lam